Finnish and British orchestras team up to develop accessible services and activities for the elderly.
The Accessible Orchestras project coordinated by the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra in collaboration with the Association of Finnish Symphony Orchestras aims to develop the work of orchestras with elderly people in Finland and Great Britain over the coming years. The two-year project will support equal accessibility to culture and the arts by seeking ways of bringing orchestra activities closer to those among the ageing population who are unable to attend concerts in person. The aim of the project is to promote a sense of community and the active inclusion of elderly people through art.
In addition to the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, other Finnish orchestras participating in the Accessible Orchestras project include the Kuopio Symphony Orchestra, Lapland Chamber Orchestra, Tapiola Sinfonietta and Turku Philharmonic Orchestra. Participating orchestras from the UK include the City of London Sinfonia, Manchester Camerata and three others. The producers of these orchestras will convene in both Helsinki and London during the 2020–21 season to pilot new ideas and share ideas with each other for working with the elderly.
“This project offers producers of Finnish orchestras the chance to learn from each other and their British colleagues, as well as to share Finnish practices in cross-administrative cooperation between culture on the one hand and social affairs and health on the other,” says Helena Värri, Executive Director of the Association of Finnish Symphony Orchestras. In the UK, the project is coordinated by Orchestras Live in collaboration with the Finnish Institute in London.
The project seeks opportunities also through digital tools to bring orchestras to elderly people receiving home care or 24-hour care. “For example, the online concerts of the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra are accessible to the elderly through the My Library service. We want to share these types of low-threshold models that promote accessibility with other orchestras and further develop these activities together,” says Annika Kukkonen, Producer at the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra.
Annika Kukkonen came up with the idea for the project together with Sarah Derbyshire, CEO of Orchestras Live, and Emilie Gardberg, Director of the Finnish Institute in London, during the Producers’ House residency in London in summer 2019.
The Accessible Orchestras project has received a special subsidy from the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture for 2020. The project’s evaluation and research are supported by Metropolia University of Applied Sciences.